R.I.P. Beater.

It has finally happened. Dan Spinali’s Sentra has gone to the Big Garage In The Sky.  A few days ago he posted pics of the sticker-encrusted ( I’m pretty sure those things held it together) Sentra. Along with those pics, we learned that his Sentra could no longer keep it together, literally. It had become more costly to keep on the road than what it was worth.

As much as we love our beaters, there comes a time to let go and put the wrenches away.  Its not always easy. More often than not it feels like saying goodbye to a good friend, much like a family pet.  It’s hard, it was a reliable and steady part of your life for quite some time. Take those memories and those adventures and use them as a reference to some new adventures in the next beater you get. Go buy another tossed-aside crap can and get back out there! Bounce the new beater off of other beaters and mailboxes. Smokescreen your way to work. Leave oil slicks down the highway  and pretend like your James Bond!

Dan left us with some final words:

Thanks for all the fun posts and the free stickers!

Sadly today was my last morning with my beater. 15 years parked outside in Canada took a toll on it, and the cost to repair outweighed the value of the car a long time ago.

15 years, 2 owners (myself and my grandfather), and only 130125 km.

You’re most definitely welcome Dan! We can’t wait to see what your next beater is gonna be (even if it is something shiny and new).

Zen And The Art Of Beater

blue carI’ve shared my Sentra with you guys several times (you’ll hear about it a bunch). In a sense it is one of the biggest inspirations for this blog. It was old. It barely ran. Sometimes it even had oil in it. The pictures don’t show it too well but when I bought it there was a very noticeable scar on the passenger side.

At one point in its previous life with its eastern European family before me, it had been in an accident and was shoddily repaired, I assume, in the driveway. Not unlike any of the repairs I had to do on it. In the early years of ownership, the honeymoon period, I tried my best to keep it clean inside and out. I would take joy in spending hours detailing every crease and crevice. Invariably I would get to the bondo’d scar and then sigh because I wouldn’t know where to start. To be honest, looking back I should never have bough the car in the first place with a patch job like that so hastily smeared on the side.an side

As the honeymoon period wore off and detailings grew to be more and more infrequent, a sort of zen-like state grew over our relationship. I stopped caring about the Sentra’s outward appearance. I knew that it could handle pretty well, that it got incredible gas mileage. I also knew that it wasn’t quick or fast or even peppy. I didn’t care about these. I also stopped caring about the dings and scrapes and scratches that come with everyday car ownership. I no longer cared if someone ran their shopping cart into my car. As long as it started up when I had to leave again.

Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.” -Robert Pirsig

truck front

Now, you could argue that this state of being calm and at peace with the chaotic world of grocery store parking lots was because my priorities were in check (as long as it started up I was happy), but I don’t think priorities had anything to do with it. I still rarely changed the oil in the thing. That’s a big priority. I went almost an entire year with a clicking front CV joint. Only repairing it after it disintegrated on me while I was changing the shocks out. I don’t think it was a case of priorities. I believe it was because I knew that whatever was going to happen out there on the road, as long as the car started up, I was fine. It’s looks couldn’t get any worse, could they?

Every person should own a beater at one point in time. Be it your first car, or fiftieth. Buy a beater. Bounce it off other beaters, and experience the zen of being within its existence. Pretty soon you’ll have that peace of mind. Pretty soon you’ll have reached Beater Enlightenment. I promise you, that you’ll be a better person for owning it. You will appreciate you “new” car more.  You will appreciate you life more.

red car

The “Oh Shit Kit”

Let’s face it, your beater is going to break down.  Your beloved daily driver, the car that’s taken you on so many adventures, is going to leave you stranded somewhere.  When your beater kicks the bucket are you prepared?

Many new cars come with roadside assistance services and road hazard kits tucked neatly in the trunk.  Not your beater.  It is a bare bones, rugged and noble steed.  Somewhere inside your beater is a set of tools specifically tailored to its most common problems.  Somewhere in your beater you probably carry an “Oh Shit Kit.”

Some classic OSK’s from Amelia. These were original and were fetching $300-$500!!

The “Oh Shit Kit” or OSK is unique to to each beater.  Its a collection of tools amassed for one singular purpose; to get you off the shoulder and back on the road, or at least onto the flatbed.

I had an old Datsun back in high school that had melted through it wiring harness and kept blowing through fusible links (old school fuses).  Instead of forking over my hard earned caddyshack money for a new harness, I spent $20 on a roll on 10 gauge fusible link wire and a cheap soldering kit.  I became a master of roadside (and car wash) electrical repairs.

I also kept an old broomstick in the hatch area. The hydraulic hatch dampers had long since expired, and a broomstick was cheaper and did the job much better than some cheap-o new dampers. Open the hatch. Hear the rust crunching under my fingers and find a hole to shove the broomstick in and prop the hatch up. done. Who needs hatch dampers anyways?

I currently am not using an “Oh Shit Kit”, but here’s what I kept in both the Datsun and the Sentra.

Show us your “Oh Shit Kits” in the comments section!


8mm-19mm wrenches

Stubby Phillips and Flathead screwdrivers

Lug nut socket

My Z
Sorry for the quality. This was my crap-can Datsun.

Breaker Bar


Bottle jack

Butane soldering torch

100ft roll of fusible link wire

Used windshield wiper blade

Extra light bulbs


PB Blaster



8mm-19mm wrenches

Stubby Phillips and Flathead screwdriver

Lug nut socket

It took more than an OSK to get me out of this mess.

Breaker Bar

Pocket knife


Scissor jack